|Robert Elms. Photo: BBC|
The Robert Elms show has a special 20th anniversary broadcast this Friday 20th June. It will be coming live from Ronnie Scott’s from midday on BBC London 94.9FM. Robert Elms is inviting memories and comments by email at robert.elms (at) bbc.co.uk – please include a phone number.
Special guests this Friday include Rod Stewart, fashion designer Paul Smith and former president of RIBA Maxwell Hutchinson. Music will be from the Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra (joined for one track by singer Linda Lewis), Gary Kemp, Nick Lowe and DJ Norman Jay MBE.
Robert Elms describes his show in the press release as “a daily dialogue with the city I love, a city which gives so much back to me every day. I am from London and the show is of London; it sounds and fees like this magnificent, monstrous, marvellous metropolis of ours.”
Robert Elms is a huge asset to the UK’s jazz scene, welcoming musicians onto the show regularly to talk and to play. On today’s show he interviewed Matthew Halsall and Rachael Gladwin from the Gondwana Orchestra after their gig at St Barnabas in Soho, and had them on the show playing live. Moved by their performance, he said at the end of the show today, before presenting the daily reggae track, an institution in itself: “There aren’t many places where you can hear that kind of music outside the specialist shows.”
He continued that theme when we spoke briefly today:”I feel proud to have introduced people to all different sorts of music The policy is ‘music for grown-ups’. I’m allowed to do that by the BBC on a daytime show which is rare, unheard-of.”
That policy of ‘mixing things up is at the core of the show: “We want to be popularist without dealing in platitudes. We’ll do buses, architecture..” And you have an audience that knows London? “We have cab-drivers and yes they really know London”
How did it all start twenty years ago? “I was brought in to do six weeks sitting in for Johnnie Walker, and he never came back.”
And you’re a cyclist? “A passionate cyclist. Lycra. Not just the commute to and from work, often more than a hundred miles a week.”
And you’re from Hendon? “Aha. You can’t always believe Wikipedia. I was born in Shepherd’s Bush, and my parents were slum-cleared (yes, seriously) to Burnt Oak.”
And the idea to have the anniversary show from Ronnie’s? “I’ve always loved the place. We feature a lot of people who play there. It’s Soho, the epicentre of London. We have a symbiotic relationship, so it’s the natural place.”
The Robert Elms Show airs at 12.00-15.00 Monday to Friday and at 10.00-13.00 on Saturday on BBC London 94.9.